Synopsys LightTools - Blowing HW Startup Minds

Anyone here besides @tbrendel and myself using Synopsys LightTools?

FYI: I’m giving a talk at next week’s user group meeting, for those who do. It’s all about how I blow hardware startup minds with LT. It’s a lot like when you blow bubbles in front of a small child for the first time. No disrespect. It just actually feels like that.

Link to sign up here (I’m doing the September 17th slot):

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Looks pretty interesting. I only used light tools briefly for a light integrator design in the IR, but it was clear there was a ton of power behind the scenes. I can imagine once you are proficient at the software you can really do cool stuff!

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@tbrendel and I went to this talk recently and it was great! @SpireStarter highlighted the power of NSQ raytracing for all sorts of realistic analysis and the time/effort difference that made to the startups she’s worked with. Her talk 100% motivates me to do more cool things with LT before my university access goes away lol.


Thanks so much for those kind words, @henryquach !

Just be sure to NEVER do as I say NOR as I do. Frankly, I’m slightly ashamed of how much I have to hack simulations working with startups. But I try to never let “perfect be the enemy of…” some sort of valuable feedback for a client.

One thing I glossed over (because I couldn’t read my own friggin slides) was that with modeling PC + Ti02, you can no longer use the Photoreal photorealistic rendering tool. If a model has volumetric scatter, Photoreal doesn’t work.

You can still get realistic images out of LightTools, but you have to create a backward spatial luminance mesh which is:
A.) a pain in the butt, and
B.) takes me a week or longer to trace 1 view!! (vs minutes w/ Photoreal)

I realized this the first time around after I’d already promised a client a Photoreal view in our contract. :roll_eyes: Then, with the SUPER SHORT timeframe I was given to provide feedback, I couldn’t do the sim multiple times to fine-tune the appearance. I ran it once, with a totally hacked material model, and then had to rely on other data to actually do the meat of the work.

As with Zemax, I wish the real-life appearance simulations were better/faster/more idiot-proof. They’re already pretty amazing! But as something to rely on as a way to communicate expectations to laymen clients – they suck.

One especially tricky thing to get a feel for with illumination simulations is what a lit appearance will be under different ambient lighting. And that’s one of THE MOST important things my clients want to be able to predict before molding a part.

  • Will the dark parts light up like a glow worm in a dark room?
  • Will I still be able to see the lit parts when outside in direct sunlight?

So if you’re looking for things to tool around with in your time left with free LT access, I’d advise becoming a pro at realistic renderings.
And then please teach me. :smiley:

Those are quite interesting considerations you bring up. I would be highly interested in seeing the visual differences between true raytracing Photoreal renders (true BSDFs) versus typical ‘product-design’ renderers (MODO, Blender, various VFX) often used in rapid prototyping and development. It certainly could be a good pitch demonstrating the difference of having ~real~ optical engineers on a project for when those optical properties will matter.

Funnily enough, I traced my first rays ever through SolidWork’s rendering engine. It’s fine for people who don’t look at optical performance details and just want something pretty lol. I rendered a lot of their available materials for fun (the buttons swap material looks across the slider). I will eventually add a comparison to LightTool’s PhotoReal BSDFs using the same camera settings I put into SW. It be so so cool to see the difference.

I’ll make an update in this thread once I eventually find the time to do that…

Hey @henryquach that would be awesome to see! I look forward to your results.

Regarding non-optical renders – I worked in industries where artists would actually create renders to use in bids for contracts before any OE work was done, and that could get Really dangerous! Yes, it would satisfy a client in the short term and it might even win your company a contract, but oftentimes, it would also misalign the client’s expectation far away from reality. Then you have an unhappy client. If that happens, it doesn’t matter so much if the optics meet some quantitative regulation – the client’s happiness is the most important metric.

The business aspect is a tough one for engineers and scientists to understand sometimes, but it’s one we need to always keep in mind! Especially if we go freelance.

Is your deck or a recording available of the talk? It sounds very interesting.


Thanks for the question! It’s available on the LightTools customer portal, but if there’s interest, I can create a new video to post publicly.

I am not a LightTools customer, I don’t now how many on this forum are.

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Thanks for letting me know! I’ll put something together. :slight_smile:

Alright, @skmurphy, I did the thing!

You can find a public video at this link:

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Thank you very much for this.